Link to: History's Ten Worst Generals
America was rushed into war. “War Hawks” in Congress hungry to conquer Canada while England was pre-occupied with war against Napoleon, whipped up patriotic passions and plunged the country into a war it wasn’t ready to fight. On August 6, 1814, a British fleet consisting of nearly fifty vessels sailed into the Chesapeake.
The main British army landed at Benedict, Maryland. British forces routed American troops at the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814 and marched into Washington City. The British commander reported to London, “I reached [Washington] at 8 o’clock that night. Judging it of consequences to complete the destruction of the public buildings with the least possible delay, so that the army might retire without loss of time, the following buildings were set fire to and consumed: the capitol, including the Senate house and House of representation, the Arsenal, the Dock-Yard, Treasury, War office, President’s Palace, Rope-Walk, and the great bridge across the Potomac: In the dock-yard a frigate nearly ready to be launched, and a sloop of war, were consumed.” The glow from the burning city could be seen forty miles away in Baltimore.
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